Instagram Removes Like Counts, How Should Marketers Adjust?

Instagram Removing Like Counts - How to Adjust Your Marketing Strategy

Instagram has a rollout program to measure what happens if they eliminate likes. It started in Canada. But now it’s expanded to six more countries. The U.S. isn’t included yet.

Impact of Instagram Removing Like Counts

Dr. Dustin York is assistant professor of communications and director of undergraduate and graduate communications programs at Maryville University. Small Business Trends contacted him to learn about the advertising implications for SMB’s.

What It’s About

He started by explaining what’s behind the move.

“This move has already been implemented in other countries like Australia and Canada,” he writes.  “Instagram’s response is they want users to spend more time focusing on content rather than worrying about likes. They also mention their hopes for supporting mental health.”

The move is partially designed to deter marketers from hawking fake influence. It’s also going to dent the influencer marketing industry. That’s if the rollout becomes more permanent.

Why It’s Important

Small businesses rely on social media. According to York, these platforms including Instagram convert the most buyers.

“Depending on the business’s target market, it could be the first or second most important tool. According to Twicsy, Instagram’s top users in the U.S. tend to be 13-29 years old, educated, making more than 30k a year and living in cities.”

York says depending on the business’s target market, Instagram could be the first or second most important tool.

What’s Going to Happen

Businesses might need to adopt to new ways. York says it’s dangerous to rely on what’s worked in the past exclusively.

“You must be comfortable with change,” he says. “This has always been the key to business growth. The change in how you communicate with customers just happens much quicker now.”

How Digital Marketing will Change

Small businesses might need to focus more on Facebook pages or blogging. They might even need to get a better understanding of their marketing targets from tools like Google analytics.

York says there’s another possibility.

He points to influencers that have made a lot of money and even careers off Instagram. Without paying them anything in return. The move might be a way to get businesses to spend less on influencers and more on Instagram sponsored posts.

“Although Instagram will never say this, it is reasonable to think they are making this change to support their business.”

What SMBs Need to Do

York offers a few suggestions on what small businesses can do to offset any changes. At the top of the list is an old standby.

How Good Content Can Help

“No tip will ever beat making good content. At the end of the day, no quick “hack” will outperform great content,” he writes.

In part, that means creating blogs and social media posts with interesting information readers can use. Stay away from salesy writing.

What to do About Influencers

“Someone with two thousand follows is not seen as a traditional “influencer,” York writes.  “However, those followers might represent the majority of 16-year-olds at your local high school. A car dealership could benefit greatly by working with that micro-influencer.”

Good advice when you’ve got a local target market for your goods and services. Don’t forget to geographically tag your keywords for an added SEO punch.

How to Test the Waters

He also suggests a compromise.

“When the change comes, test a percentage of your budget you were using on influencers on sponsored posts. Then compare your traffic/engagement/metrics from your influencer budget to your sponsored post budget.”

Finally, York has a prediction for where he sees the trend going. He thinks that Comments will be the new Likes for Influencers.

“Influencers will encourage (even more than now) followers to comment on their posts. The metric for how many comments a post has will still be publicly available,” he says.


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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

7 Reactions
  1. This will really change the way Instagram marketing works. How about those posts and profiles even personal profiles that rely on like counts?

  2. Well, I almost want to say “Don’t get me started…” I have several thoughts on this but I’ll simply point out one prediction as food for thought. Fake engagement. Bot-generated comments (e.g. “Great post!” + some cheery emoji) will soon represent the lazy shyster’s go-to tactic. Keep your eyes open for more of that muck, meaning it’s already happening but it’ll get worse. It’s like an endless cat-and-mouse game. So if fake engagement increases, and I predict that it will, the truly chatty and truly strong communities are the entities who’ll shine and stand out. For far too long it’s been the solo-flying B2C influencers generating garbage engagement and abusing bot tech.

  3. It is an easily gamed vanity metric anyway. Getting rid of it won’t fundamentally change the way people use the platform. However, there are lots of marketers and influencers who like reporting on it. They’ll wring their hands and lament the loss.

  4. I think it is overall a good change to the platform and provides more chances for content creators to be creative. Vanity metrics usually kill the intent to produce more content and I think it will make content creators engage more in the community with their followers. Hashtag research will be of essence in this.

  5. Instagram marketing has become a important influencer marketing also now days. You have shared the great points in the blog which really a good lesson for instagram users and learners

  6. Great. Loved the article. Please keep writing more articles on such topics. You have shared the great point in the blog.

  7. Your article has piqued a lot of positive interest. I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting.